OLYMPIAN Jehue Gordon was held up as an example of the kind of guy one should bring home to parents, as he addressed an auditorium full of girls at Marabella North Secondary School yesterday.
The occasion was a Ministry of Education approved event, organised by the Guidance and Student Support Services, in recognition of the United Nations (UN) International Day of the Girl Child.
Since 2012, the UN has been commemorating the International Day of the Girl Child on October 11, a day which promotes girls' human rights and highlights gender inequalities.
Guidance officer 1 Sherma Coar explained the purpose was to have women internationally known empower the girls to make the right choices in their academics and career paths while developing their social skills.
Speakers included Soca artistes, Terri Lyons and Shradah McIntyre, Olympic athletes Cleopatra Borel and Jehue Gordon, Nicole Dyer-Griffith and female soldiers from the TT Defence Force.
At the end of the sessions, the speakers were mobbed by the students who hugged them and took photographs with them as they came into the audience.
The session began with screams of delight from the auditorium at the Marabella school as the young ladies spotted Gordon, one of TT’s international track and field athletes.
Recognising the impact he was having on the girls, Borel who accompanied him, used his clean-cut look and achievement to demonstrate to the girls this is the kind of guys they should take home to meet their parents. Borel asked him to stand on the stage as she pointed out to the girls, “gentlemen like Jehue is what we are looking for. Look at his dress shoe, nice pants, well groomed, no gold teeth, don’t have on 500 gold chains. He is not selling drugs. He is a respectable, upstanding member of the community. He will enhance you as a young lady, but not now, when you are of age,” she was quick to add to loud applause.
Borel, who has been flying the flag of TT on the international circuit as a shot putter, told the audience when she was their age, she thought those traits were cute and sexy, but cautioned, “those (boys) don’t grow up to be successful young men like Jehue.”
She identified with the schoolgirls, telling them she only went to school because her parents demanded it, but she had no idea where her path would lead. “I was thinking to myself, I have no talent, I don’t know what I am going to do.” The one constant, she said was her love for athletics and track and field.
Borel advised the students to figure out what they wanted to do with their lives. She said, "A hairdresser, nail technician, business executive, athlete, or a mom– and be emboldened to follow your dreams.”
Dyer-Griffith used the word ‘power’ as an acronym to empower the girls– P for purpose and passion, O for opportunity, W for work, E to endure to the end and R for respect.
She encouraged them to identify their purpose by identifying what they are passionate about, and pursue it. She said, "Grasp opportunities that may come your way, give yourselves a chance, work hard for what you want because nothing comes easy, endure to the very end and above all, respect yourselves and others."
Dyer-Griffith related her foray into the political arena in 2007 when she contested her first election in a PNM stronghold,"and I get bad licks." That result did not deter her from a second attempt three years later as her purpose was to make a difference with a passion for the people.
Although she did not win, she said, “I managed to go from losing by 3000 votes in 2007 to losing by 800 votes in 2010. The moral of the story, ladies, is that regardless of what comes your way, take it and learn from it."
The auditorium erupted after lunch as the two soca artistes combined their motivational talk with entertainment. McIntyre told the audience she was not a model student, but her years in school helped to shape her into becoming a positive contributor to society.
Lyons, the daughter of iconic Super Blue, (Austin Lyons) stressed the importance of respecting oneself. Especially in the entertainment industry, she said, one had to maintain that self-respect and remain positive because to do otherwise could put a stain on your name and career. She was later joined by the audience as they danced and sang along to her performance of, I am a Lion.